This time last year, President Obama joked about the election, bid the Washington press adieu, and finally dropped the mic at his last White House Correspondents Dinner in office. Too bad nothing of major political significance has gone down since then and nobody will have anything to talk about this year, right?
Just kidding! American politics are utter chaos right now! That can be distressing to a lot of people on a day-to-day basis, but this weekend, there’s an opportunity for you to try to just enjoy it: The annual mutual roasting of the Washington media and the politicians they cover has rolled around once again. Here are all the details about where to watch and what you’ll see at this year’s “nerd prom” — and it should be an interesting one.
When is the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and how can I watch it?
The White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner takes place this Saturday, April 29, held in the ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The event will stream live on C-SPAN beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT.
Who is delivering the keynote?
The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj will drop political zingers as this year’s speaker, a role that was filled in 2016 by Larry Wilmore. Minhaj joined the satirical news program during Jon Stewart’s tenure as host, and reports primarily on religious and Muslim issues. “Hasan’s smarts, big heart, and passion for press freedom make him the perfect fit for our event, which will be focused on the First Amendment and the importance of a robust and independent media,” White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason said in a statement. If you’re not familiar with Minhaj and want a preview of his comedy before the big night, check out some of his best Daily Show segments here.
Who will be there?
The big story here is who will not be there: Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his loathing for the news media — or the “enemy of the American people,” as he likes to call it — has said he will not attend the event, which celebrates the free press and honors the First Amendment. The President isn’t the only big name who’ll be sitting this one out, either; the normally star-studded affair is expected to be much more low-key this year, and many media outlets are extending their invitations to journalists rather than celebrities. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any stars in attendance. We do know Alyssa Milano, Chad Lowe, Matt Walsh, Elvis Costello, and Billy Bob Thornton will be there.
But wait! If you’re bummed about the party’s lack of a POTUS as well as its celebrity shortage, there might be a solution for both losses! Alec Baldwin “wouldn’t say [he’s] not lobbying” to perform his impression of the President and stand in for Trump at the dinner. Wouldn’t that be tremendous?
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Why won’t Trump be there?
“I am not a hypocrite, and I haven’t been treated properly, and that’s okay, that’s fine,” he explained on Fox and Friends soon after he announced he would skip the dinner. Instead of schmoozing with the press, he’ll spend Saturday — which, in a remarkable coincidence, happens to be his 100th day in office — “holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania,” he tweeted.
Has the President ever skipped it before?
Yes, but it’s been 36 years since the Commander-in-Chief sat one out. Trump will be the first POTUS to skip the dinner since Ronald Reagan, who missed it once, in 1981, because he was recovering from an assassination attempt — but he did call into the event to deliver remarks from the hospital. Before Reagan, Jimmy Carter did not attend in 1980 or 1978, and Richard Nixon opted out in 1974 and 1972.
This whole thing sounds super lame. What else can I watch that night instead?
Funny you should ask! Late-night maverick Samantha Bee will be hosting the first annual Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington that very same night. The event will air as a special episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee at 10:00 p.m. ET on TBS, and stream on Twitter at 11:00 p.m. ET/8:00 pm PT, with a red carpet stream beginning two hours earlier. “We’re throwing a party to toast the free press — while we still have one,” Bee says in the promo video. Raise a glass!